Harbour View Room 1
Sheraton Aggie Grey’s Hotel
5 September 2017
- Honourable Leaders, Ministers and Ambassadors
- Heads of the Council of Regional Organisations in the Pacific
- Ladies and Gentlemen
- Let me welcome your Excellencies to this year’s Pacific ACP Leaders Meeting here in Apia, Samoa. I take this opportunity to acknowledge again the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements afforded to us all, by the people and Government of Samoa.
- Today, we gather as the Pacific ACP collective to consider key issues of relevance to our Pacific ACP States.
- On the agenda today are a number of high level political issues and some operational matters for which Leaders guidance is being sought. If I may briefly touch on some these important issues:
Post – Cotonou Negotiations
- As the expiry of the Cotonou Agreement in 2020 approaches, we will need to be proactive in ensuring that the development support under this arrangement is channelled effectively to our region and aligns with our regional priorities. We must also ensure that our priorities are reflected in any future partnership agreement with the European Union.
- The broader theme of the 48th Pacific Island Forum – The Blue Pacific -focuses on strengthening our collective identity and indeed collective political action to advance our regional priorities. I would therefore encourage the Pacific ACP Leaders to capitalise on this renewed impetus and new narrative, in progressing the preparatory discussions on post-Cotonou.
European development assistance to the region
- On a related matter, Leaders will recall that the European Union’s development assistance to the region is channelled through the European Development Fund. We are now in the middle of its 11th cycle.
- Excellencies, will further recall that at your meeting in 2016, Leaders were updated on the challenges faced in the programming the European Development Fund – Pacific Regional Indicative Programme for 2014 – 2020, commonly referred to as EDF 11.
- It is extremely disappointing that the region has still not been able to drawdown on the regional envelope of EDF11 funds to address the agreed priority areas identified by the region.
- Further, the region has witnessed in recent months, a redistribution of funds within the regional indicative programme. It has also been brought to my attention that the European Union is considering a reduction in the allocated funds for the Pacific Regional Indicative Programme, particularly in the focal area on Regional Economic Integration. This meeting provides the opportunity for Leaders to discuss this matter in more depth.
Trade and Private Sector Development Matters
- Excellencies, on the important subject of trade and private sector development, you will recall your endorsement in 2016, of the Secretariat to be the Pacific ACP Regional Focal Point on the implementation of the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy (2014 – 2020), an Intra-ACP initiative focusing on empowering the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), amongst other priorities.
- The Secretariat is coordinating the execution of this work in partnership with the ACP Secretariat, the European Union, and other relevant stakeholders involved in supporting the region’s private sector. Our efforts in supporting private sector is directly linked to the region’s capacity to trade amongst the PACPS, as well as with the region as-a-whole and globally.
- Relatedly, your guidance and direction with regard to our intra-regional and multilateral trade arrangements, including preparations for the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December and efforts to reinvigorate regional trade through the Pacific Island Countries Trade Agreement (PICTA) are important.
- Excellencies, we have a very tight schedule this morning. I trust that we will work together as we have done in the past, to address and advance a number of the key regional issues requiring your consideration and direction. I wish you well in your deliberations. I thank you.